Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986! The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!
It’s time to once again experience the magic of The Love Boat!
Episode 1.21 “Taking Sides/Going By The Book/A Friendly Little Game”
(Dir by Richard Kinon, originally aired on February 18th, 1978)
This week’s episode begins with the extremely nerdy Howard Wilson (Harvey Jason) preparing to board the ship. Before he does so, he’s approached by his best friend, Bernie (Paul Sylvan). Bernie gives Howard a book on how to talk to women. Apparently, this is something that Howard’s not good at but Bernie swears that the book will change his life. There’s a Roy Lichtenstein-style picture of a man and a woman kissing on the cover of the book so Howard decides that Bernie knows what he’s talking about.
On the boat, Howard immediately notices Sheila Lawrence (Georgia Engel). However, Sheila’s overprotective father (Herb Voland) has specifically asked Captain Stubing to make sure that no one seduces his daughter. The captain assigns Doc Bricker (Bernie Kopell) to keep an eye on her, which makes absolutely no sense. Over the course of the last twenty episodes, Doc has yet to meet a woman who he has not hit on. Doc is a walking HR nightmare and quite frankly, I would be kind of uncomfortable going to him for a medical examination. He seems like he would be a little bit handsy, if you get my drift.
Anyway, Doc turns out to be pretty bad at his job because Howard still manages to hit on Sheila. Of course, Howard’s just doing what the book tells him to do. Eventually, though, he realizes that he doesn’t need the book and Shelia realizes that she needs to spend more time on her own happiness and stop worry about what her father wants. Yay! It’s another Love Boat success story,
Meanwhile, Scott (Robert Urich) and Ellen (Diana Canova) are newlyweds who seem to be totally in love until they make the mistake of having dinner with an old married couple, Max (Robert Mandan) and Gladys (Audrey Meadows). Listening to Max and Gladys bicker soon leads to Scott and Ellen bickering and it looks like their marriage might be over. But again, the magic of The Love Boat leads to everyone realizing that bickering is a part of marriage and that you can still love someone even if you disagree with them. Yay! Robert Urich and Diana Canova were such a cute couple. They just looked like they belonged together.
Finally, poor old Wendell Snead (Harry Morgan) is taking his wife on a cruise that he can’t really afford. In fact, he secretly took out a mortgage on their house in order to buy the tickets. Wendell has plan, though! He has a set of marked playing cards and he beats Gopher at several games of gin rummy. When the crew discovers that he’s been cheating, their initial reaction is to cheat back. But when they learn why he’s been cheating, they give him all the money from the ship’s emergency fund. Awwwwww!
This was a sweet episode. Yes, the stuff with the book and the overprotective father was pretty stupid but the other two stories were entertaining. Harry Morgan’s melancholy performance was the episode’s stand-out. The fact that the crew gave him money instead of calling the cops brought tears to my mismatched eyes. Nicely done, Love Boat.
What will happen next week? We’ll find out in seven days!